Taliban leaders to re-elect Mullah Omar’s successor

ISLAMABAD: Following the death of Mullah Omar, dissident Afghan Taliban leaders have formed a ‘shura’ or council, to elect a new chief after controversy surfaced over the election of Mullah Akhtar Mansoor, a council’s member said Saturday.

Mansoor, the former aviation minister in the Taliban government, was elected this week after the Taliban formally confirmed their supreme leader Mullah Omar had died of a protracted illness.

A senior member of the powerful leadership council, while speaking to The Express Tribune, said that the council will give Akhtar Mansoor some time to “give up” the top position.

“If he refuses, the council could elect a new leader,” he added.

As differences within the Taliban ranks emerged, the new Taliban chief called for unity. The Taliban released audio files of Mansoor’s speech to the meeting after his election.

Taliban faced split after the confirmation of Mullah Omar’s death, who had kept the movement united during his life.

Mullah Omar’s family has announced it will not “support any group” if the leaders failed to agree on the chief in “unanimity”.

The family in a statement declined to back Akhtar Mansoor who was one of the trusted leaders of Mullah Omar and the founding member, according to senior Taliban leaders.

“The Ameerul Momineen (leader of the faithful) had always desired unity and understanding and he had, to a large extent, succeeded to maintain unity. We want to consult and respect opinion of the ulema, Mujahideen, and those renowned personalities in the election of the new chief who had played important role in the foundation of the Islamic Emirate,” Omar’s family said in a statement.

The election with consensus will be homage and respect to the desire of Mullah Omar, the statement added.

“We will serve the new leader if he is elected with consensus but will not support anyone including Mullah Akhtar Mansoor if the leaders failed to demonstrate unity,” Omar’s family said.

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